Social Media and Fake News

Social media and fake news Social media, a tool for entertainment and information, has proved its importance in contemporary sociality. While social media may have provided its users with convenient access to a mass quantity of information, there is no guarantee of the quality. As such, there is an abundance of false information circulating the social media. This leads to the rapid spread of misinformation due to the lack of fact-checking by the receiver and the distorted conclusion attracting people’s attention (Gilligan & Gologorsky, 2019, p. 284). In the medical field, the spread of misinformation was the main contributor to the anti-vaccination movement in the United States (US) (Wang et al., 2019, p. 1). This essay will describe how social media facilitates the spreading of fake news in the US. It will then explain why the current approach to combat the problem is not effective and will suggest improved ways to further mitigate the issue. Social media tailor information to user preferences and forming echo chambers. Social media uses an algorithm to recommend posts to its users base on their interest which causes a problem when users come across a post containing misinformation, surprised by the discovery, click into it to read up more. This triggers the algorithm behind the platform to recommend similar posts on the topic to the user assuming that it is what the user is interested in. However, such a mechanism prevents the user from differing views and thus creates a confirmation bubble which leads the user to affirm the misinformation received. As there are few regulations in the US regarding false or misleading information (), there is no filter of information by the social media platform. According to (), users see information on the internet to be as credible as conventional media. Therefore, after users fall for misinformation, the social media creates an echo chamber surrounding the user causing him/her to believe it to be true. False health information is appealing and therefore able to spread rapidly on social media. According to Wang (2019), misinformation is often more popular than accurate information. Social media is not just an information outlet, it involves interaction between people through likes, shares, and comments. This is where misinformation dominated by personal and opinionated tone tends to strive. Presented in personal narratives, false information is more relatable to other people and attracts people’s attention. The content is then shared without fact-checking which is very common in users of social media termed “lazy thinking”. As a huge volume of information is represented on social media each day, fact-checking therefore becomes a tiring task for any individual. Therefore, people rely on their intuition to access the information received. Many social media users are susceptible to lazy thinking causing misinformation to be liked and shared multiple times without verifying its accuracy. People who are skeptical before also start to believe that there is some element of truth in it since so many people share the idea.

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